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Delivering the future: what’s next for technology in the logistics sector?

Posted by Philip Bindley

Every day logistics companies are leveraging new technologies and in no other sector are the benefits of streamlining basic operations, improving agility and creating a competitive advantage more evident.

Here, we will take a look at the direction in which the industry is moving by looking at three of the main considerations that developers and logistics pioneers need to be aware of as the sector, and the technology powering it, continually evolves.

 

The growth and reliance on data

With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being produced every day and the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices  estimated to reach 50 billion by 2025, there’s no doubt that this data explosion will continue to expand for the foreseeable future.

The logistics ecosystem contributes a significant amount of this data as it moves towards embracing cutting-edge technologies. With the uptake in automation across the sector, and revolutionary trials of platooning technology taking place across the world, particularly in Los Angeles and the Netherlands, we can only expect it to embed itself into the fabric of the industry even more.

Volvo Group is one leading organisation which is exploiting the possibilities of fully-automated trucks, with one vehicle in full use at a mine in Kristineberg, Sweden. The company has already uncovered some of the valuable benefits that automation brings, including increased safety, reduced fuel consumption and emissions, and it’s inevitable that many in the industry will soon follow suit.

But connected devices and automation aren’t the only innovations powering the data boom in the industry – advanced technologies such as Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are relieving the burden of data analytics and offering critical insight for businesses in the sector, whilst also adding to the data produced. Both technologies are also vital in streamlining processes across the supply chain – from tracking and transporting packages across a warehouse using robotics, to using ML and AI to predict demand in the supply chain.

Global skincare company, Olay, is a prime example of a household brand using these technologies to its advantage through its Skin Advisor app, which performs facial analysis using ML algorithms to identify an individual’s skincare needs. The helps to shed light on buying behaviour and consumer demand of skincare and beauty products, which will then feed into the supply chain by highlighting which products are likely to be most popular.

Data is the driving force behind the future of logistics, but to sustain these advancements, it’s essential that the technology underpinning them remains agile and resilient as data sets continue to grow.

 

Increased adoption of hybrid cloud

With the rapid growth of tech-savvy business and an increasing demand for flexible IT solutions, hybrid cloud is becoming an increasingly attractive option for logistics innovators. One of the main benefits that can be drawn from it is that this flexible infrastructure allows for capacity to be switched between private and public cloud when there is an increase in traffic, ensuring that interruption is kept to a minimum. This is particularly key for logistics organisations to help processes run smoothly.

Having a hybrid infrastructure also allows businesses to configure relevant processes to be fed through to either their public, private or on-premise environment – whether a dedicated environment is needed to run static and predictable workloads, or the cloud is necessary to react to unpredictable and fluctuating demands.

The necessary processes involved in utilising a hybrid environment, such as pseudonymisation – the separation of data from all identifiers – mean that it’s often a more secure way for organisations to store sensitive information. This is particularly important for businesses in the logistics sector who have to negotiate regulatory or data sovereignty requirements.

To ensure compliance, logistics companies need to use the right platforms for the right services, whether through public, private or on-premise solutions, or a combination of the three. Hybrid cloud also provides developers with good environments to carry out development, testing and proof of concept assessments in dedicated environments, which in turn can help bolster the integrity of software and platforms developed and used across the industry.

 

Emerging cyber threats

With new technology comes new security considerations, especially as the data created and used throughout the supply chain, increases. Because of this, the logistics sector is becoming an increasingly lucrative target for cyber criminals who come armed with more infectious malware and stronger methods of attack, powered by technologies such as AI.

The sector will remember the NonPetya attack all too well, which targeted organisations across the globe, including the world’s largest shipping company, Maersk, as well as logistics and postal companies, Deutsche Post and Deutsche Bahn. Attacks such as this are simply driven by a desire to compromise valuable data gathered by the industry as it propels forward on its digital journey.

As a result, security remains a prevailing issue for the industry, especially as organisations need to meet an increasing number of compliance standards as a result of holding greater amounts of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and the data accumulated across the supply chain. This is something the industry needs to have front of mind when developing and adopting any technology, whether for use internally or externally.

 

How we can support your future

Whether you were born in the cloud, or operate a combination of on-premise, private or public cloud, balancing the adoption of emerging technologies with evolving security needs is a massive challenge for forward-thinking organisations that are keen to modernise their operations.

The Bunker understands the importance of keeping up-to-date with cutting-edge technology and what is needed to ensure that all of this is continuously upheld.

With our military-grade ultra-secure data centres, alongside our industry-leading expertise, we arm you with the tools you need to scale, boost efficiencies and functionality, and also meet your necessary security and compliance requirements.